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"Did You Try to Hurt Yourself?"
the_grand_lebowski10 February 2013
In our pharmaceutically inclined society, side effects are ever-present hazards of prescription drug usage. Whether they are minimized in print, or spoken in a hushed tone at the close of television commercials, side effects have become a shady companion of prescription drugs. Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh's alleged final film, focuses on the consequences visited upon a young couple after the side effects from the wife's medication cause her to commit an alarming act. As the chasm opens beneath this young woman, her psychiatrist struggles with his responsibility for her predicament, and confront his lingering suspicion about his patient's state of mind.

Ever the auteur, Soderbergh remains delightfully unpredictable with this latest feature. Side Effects initially presents itself as an indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, wearing its heavy-handed message on its sleeve, but promptly converts into a psychological suspense thriller. Soderbergh stares you directly in the eyes while he rips the rug from beneath your feet, sending you spiraling toward a conclusion that is equally unexpected and pleasing. Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, The Bourne Ultimatum) channel Hitchcock, creating an in-depth narrative that remains unpredictable until its final scene.

Soderbergh is known for generating a positive film environment for his cast, and maximizing the actors' potential in his films. Although the cast for Side Effects is comprised of actors who have previously provided impressive performances, each actor presents a character that rivals any prior roles. Rooney Mara plays the young woman at the epicenter of the conflict. Mara is extremely engrossing, creating an aura of discontent and depression within her situation. She acts as the film's catalyst, holding all the characters together while prompting them toward their conclusions. Attractive, graceful, and erratic, Mara is the wounded girl who isn't all that she seems.

While the film's driving force is Mara, Jude Law is its principle focus. As Mara's overwhelmed psychiatrist, Law provides his most empathetic role to date. Law establishes a flawed character who struggles with the consequences forced upon him, and transforms into a protagonist worthy of our admiration. Law and Mara provide such intriguing characterizations, Soderbergh seems to have difficulty deciding which to devote more time to. The scenes they share are the most arresting in this film.

There are few things more satisfying than a film which receives little attention, but creates an unexpectedly entertaining experience. Though Soderbergh has billed Side Effects as his swan song, he confirms that he is a cinematic mastermind in a film that would be an impressive conclusion to an eccentric career. Indulge in this unconventional thriller; you won't mind the side effects.
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Morally ambiguous characters in a deceptive, complex thriller plot
napierslogs9 February 2013
In "Side Effects", Emily (Rooney Mara) is feeling hopeless, suffering from prolonged effects of abandonment issues, unsure how to proceed in her life. Her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum) has just come home from prison, serving time for insider trading. But Emily doesn't know what she should be feeling; Emily doesn't know how to feel what she should be feeling. Psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) is exactly what the doctor ordered.

For those of us who watched "Contagion" (2011) and wanted to focus only on Jude Law's morally ambiguous blogger, Alan Krumwiede, we have finally gotten our wish. Law's morally ambiguous Dr. Jon Banks and Mara's psychologically ambiguous Emily are the only two main characters. There is only one story to follow.

It starts off with some strange camera angles (Steven Soderbergh serving as his own director of photography as he has for the majority of his films) but then settles down as a thriller, or what will become a thriller once we get to know the characters better. Emily has tried many antidepressants in the past but most leave her with undesired side effects: nausea, dizziness, or lack of a sex drive. Won't Dr. Banks please prescribe her something different? Sure, how about Ablixa, the new medication which Dr. Banks is being paid to try out on patients.

And although we now think we know in which character evil lies, we do not. Dr. Jonathan Banks is singularly the most complicated, interestingly created character in recent times. He's modern, selfish, compassionate, professionally-oriented, family-oriented, has respect for the legal system, and will go to extremes to distinguish between right and wrong. He's the focus of this character-centric, film noir thriller which uses Mara's Emily as the vehicle for the plot.

A crime is committed. It's bad, really bad. But the question is not who did it, the question is, who is guilty? In answering that question the film weaves from deception through twist to deception, never ceasing our questions of what is morally right, what is morally wrong and who is guilty? The screenplay is incredibly well-written, creating characters that amaze us, disappoint us and deceive us all the while being a part of an interesting and complex story. The dialogue fits with that theme, using words like "hopeless" to tie multiple characters together - conceptually not physically.

It's more of an edge-of-your-mind thriller rather than an edge-of-your- seat thriller. Never really scared, always questioning the moral and psychological behaviour of these characters. The ending takes some strange, sexually-charged turns, and perhaps a bit more conclusive than I was originally expecting, but don't worry, you can still question where the line is between right and wrong and when each character crossed it.
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It isn't what you think--superbly acted and directed
secondtake13 July 2013
Side Effects (2013)

Tightly scripted, superbly cast and acted, well-crafted movie all around. This is in a conventional story-telling style but the details are so finely tuned it's a pleasure, and a suspense, all through.

I'm not sure who gets more credit, Jude Law in his role as Dr. Banks, a truly well-meaning psychiatrist or Rooney Mara as Emily, the patient (in various stages, and not always so well-meaning). Both are brilliant and believable. You half expect them to click romantically, but that you'll have to see about.

The plot, at first, has to do with Emily dealing with her husband getting out of jail (he was in for insider trading). Then with her depression coping with it all. Then with the pills she's taking for same. Then with the apparent side effects of the medication, which loom as a whole new horror story.

And that's just the beginning. There are surprises (one of them hinted at in the opening scene) and then further and further twists. The plot threatens to get overly sensational but somehow keeps itself in check. So the movie becomes increasingly a thriller with its feet on the ground. Always interesting.

Director Steven Soderbergh is a true artist movie maker. And you can feel things finely tuned and in control here. He has never been the kind of auteur as the famous greats like Coppola or Kubrick or more recently even Nolan (whatever the excesses of the latter). But within the conventions of conventional movies, he usually makes really watchable, polished, and visually beautiful movies. That's very true here.
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Being Fooled is Part of the Fun
Karen Boyd8 February 2013
I read an article that said that, with Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh wanted to return to the old suspense classics like Jagged Edge and much of Hitchcock, psychological twisters that aren't made much anymore.

I suspect that's because today people expect vampires, car chases or buckets of blood to justify the price of a ticket. Well, I too remember those old classics and I loved them. Side Effects is a worthy addition but be warned that it's a thinking person's movie not a chainsaw caper.

I'm surprised that so many people mention the twists and turns. Yes, there are some but not that many and they're what makes it all so fascinating. You think you know what's happening -- but you don't! What I especially enjoyed was the gamesmanship the different characters displayed. It's like a chess match with three people and more to kibitz.

And yet as we travel through the story, the surprising bits do make sense and we wonder why we didn't think of those things before. We're deep into the heart of mental illness and psychopathology. Almost every character has secrets or hidden motives they would not like to see the light of day. Although the main character seems at first to be the troubled young wife, it becomes clear that it is Jude Law's character as the shrink who is struggling to find the truth and do the right thing.

Just when you think everything that can go wrong for him has, the tide begins to turn and it's Oh My Gosh. Just like a Hitchcock film, you have a guy to root for and wonder how he will ever work his way though. I expected a different -- more startling -- ending, but there is the promise (perhaps?) of more horror to come.

Yes, let's definitely have a sequel! Okay, Stephen?
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Soderbergh's epilogue(?)
dvc51598 February 2013
Steven Soderbergh's "Side Effects" begins with the camera zooming in from the streets to an apartment window, and ends in the reverse manner (no, I'm not spoiling anything). In a subtle way, Soderbergh's final shot represents his "full circle". Will he really retire from filmmaking for good? If so, then we will miss him. He is a truly exceptional filmmaker - and "Side Effects" would be a worthy film to go out on.

Indeed, "Side Effects" is a pure thriller, as it was marketed. While prescription medicine is the central plot device, the film also deals with psychology, law, insecurity, social stigma, corporate greed and obsession. Not explicitly for all of them, mind you, but subtly enough to get the point through, and not dawdling on it a second further. The taut, gripping, Hitchcockian screenplay by Scott Z. Burns gleefully twists and turns its way into unexpected plot developments, allowing Soderbergh to roam the apartments and streets with his camera, creating an intense yet unusually hypnotic atmosphere that is irresistibly gorgeous to watch.

Jude Law, looking more haggard here, is suitably desperate and obsessive as the "good?" doctor who seeks the truth pervasively after a horrific act committed by his patient, Emily (Rooney Mara). Clues lead him to Emily's previous doctor, Dr. Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones), which reveal that things are not what they seem. Zeta-Jones is juicily and devilishly icy-cold in her portrayal of Siebert, reminding me of those wicked female villains of the 90's thrillers. Staying in the background while having an influence throughout the second half of the movie is Rooney Mara, once again giving a strong performance as the conflicted Emily. Extremely vulnerable, soft-spoken, and unpredictable, she continues to steadily rise as one of the best young actresses working today. Channing Tatum too, as her husband Martin, an ex-convict fresh out of prison for insider trading, portrays his character outside of the stereotype, and turns him into a somewhat sympathetic and unfortunate character.

Soderbergh's complete control of atmosphere would not be complete without his usual great cinematography, crisp editing and unnerving music score by Thomas Newman, who conjures up some interesting musical themes at the proper times to rattle the characters even further. This is extremely skillful filmmaking, and although the plot has been seen and done before, it is exhilarating to see how a master filmmaker commands his given material so strongly and fleshing it out with his signature style.

This is a very good film. It's one of those movies that, when you start watching, you want to keep watching to see what happens next. Hitchcock himself would have smiled at this one. As for Soderbergh, he still has that Liberace biopic due for a TV release later this year, so he's not done with it yet. But well, I sure hope he returns someday if he decides to do so.
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Soderbergh Does Drugs and Does Them Well
DjMethod8 February 2013
Side Effects is a psychological thriller centered around the pharmaceutical industry. I won't say much more for fear of spoiling anything, but let's just say an experimental drug prescription goes... haywire. ;)

Steven Soderbergh crafts his suspense from the very first frame with a perfect start for the film. The plot then pulls us in and keeps us guessing as the mystery slowly unfolds. The cast meshes wonderfully. Jude Law delivers a strong lead as the frustrated psychiatrist and Rooney Mara is mysterious and unpredictable. My only complaint is the performances were not as dramatic as they could have been. Mara was excellent at portraying her character's cold and lifeless depression, but I have seen what she is really capable of (Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), and she could have definitely reached those heights with this type of character. Nonetheless, a fine set of performances all around, but they take a back seat to the intoxicating narrative.

So is Side Effects Soderbergh's last hurrah? I certainly hope not, as it's probably my favorite film of his. I do wish Soderbergh got more range out of Mara, but the result is a satisfying and expertly-woven psychological drama packed with twists and turns.
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In danger of not caring...
Alex Cutler (acutler)18 March 2013
I usually love Steven Soderbergh films. And this one starts off with his usual brilliance and had me hooked for the first half of the film.

The first of the film is well-acted, well-crafted, smart and involving.

Then comes the crunch: without spoiling, the second half of the film is quite different. In a sense the "smart" of the film just becomes an exercise in how "clever" the plot can be at the expense of any emotional truth to the characters. I stopped caring for the ensemble as they started to feel like lifeless pawns following the whims of a "how clever am I?" plot-line. You'll enjoy it if you like a Sunday Afternoon TV Detective movie and like solving the puzzle, but this is not great theatre.

It is better than most films, but only just. Certainly one of Soderbergh's most disappointing. Rooney Mara makes it still watchable - an actress to keep following.
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An intriguing, complex psychological thriller
parallel_projection9 February 2013
Steven Soderbergh has decided to end his career what can only be described as a pharmaceutical, psychosexual thriller that deals with several morally ambiguous characters all revolving around one horrible incident. Out of fear of giving away the intelligent, twist-filled plot written by Scot Z. Burns, that's really all I can say, although I can tell you that Soderbergh directs the film with extreme confidence, and it shows. He was able to convey a sort of quiet chaos with his frequent close-ups, and, by shifting in-and-out of focus throughout the screen, he was able to draw attention to the many small, yet important details.

The real strength of this film, though, is not necessarily the story itself, but how it is presented. To be honest, the story is almost too smart to the point of absurdity, but it never comes off as such. By releasing only one small piece of information at a time, we are kept waiting through interviews, court hearings, false trails, and many psychiatrist visits until, finally, everything comes together into one neat conclusion. The entire film is very subdued, but if you pay attention, you will be rewarded in the end.

Of course, the story would not have turned out so well without the multiple impressive performances that carry it all the way through. Rooney Mara is once again stunning as Emily Taylor, a woman who starts taking prescription antidepressants to cope with her husband's release from prison. Without giving much away, Emily is far more complex than she first appears, and Mara plays this perfectly by retaining a dark mysteriousness about her. She truly steals every scene she's in, and displays such a range of emotions that, at times, it's difficult to tell what her character is truly thinking. This is unfortunate for Channing Tatum, who does a fine job as her loving and sympathetic husband trying to make everything right after being released for insider trading, but who doesn't have close to enough material to compete with Mara.

Jude Law, on the other hand, is arguably the most central figure as Dr. Jonathan Banks, Emily's psychiatrist who is thrown into a scandal when his patient is involved in a tragic accident after taking an antidepressant he prescribed for her. He slowly mentally unravels as his decisions come back to haunt him, and eventually has to cross several moral boundaries in order to get his life back on track. Law shows this frustration with expert skill, and gives one of the best performances of his recent career. The same can be said for Catherine Zeta- Jones, who—as Emily's former psychiatrist Dr. Victoria Siebert—gives possibly the most complex performance, and does it brilliantly despite her lack of screen time.

To give away any more would be to say too much, as the film is so perfectly structured, it is difficult to discuss without giving away the whole thing. All I can add is, it is not so simple and straightforward as it may appear. It is a complex of characters, their motives, and the consequences of their actions, and, despite taking a while to get started, it is truly a spectacular, thrilling, and intricate journey that should not be missed.
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Strap on Your Seatbelt
Catt Jones8 February 2013
I saw a couple of interviews with the cast before this film came out and they talked about the fact that this film had a lot of twists and turns in it; and they weren't kidding. However, that being said I went in with a certain mindset and it took me a little time to figure it out, but I eventually did. Either the film was moving real slow for me or I have become accustom to seeing more action. This film is purely psychological in nature, so if you are looking for some action, there isn't any. It also got me to thinking how much power court appointed psychologists have and how they have the power to manipulate the system. On the other hand, it also made me realize that mental patients have absolutely no control over their lives (which may be a good thing). Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) is the psychologist on the case of a severely depressed patient. His world is quickly turned upside down by having to deal with anxiety, depression, pharmaceuticals and medical ethics. Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) is the severely depressed woman who is desperately trying to find the right drug to cure her affliction. Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a former attending psychologist of Emily who is consulted by Dr. Banks to try and uncover some of the dilemmas of her past. Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) is Emily's husband and is shouldered with the responsibility of trying to care his wife as she tries medication after medication in addition to trying to keep the marriage together. Dierdre Banks (Vinessa Shaw) is Jonathan's wife and she becomes a victim and unwilling participant in the unfolding circumstances that is affecting her life. I think that the entire cast did an excellent job, but as I said before it was a tad slow for me in the beginning. This film definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat and you really do not know who is playing whom. It was difficult to know who to root for until all is revealed at the end. I thought that the story was a good one and it definitely takes you on a roller-coaster ride. I am not sure that anyone could ever reach the level of a Hitchcock film, but this one comes pretty close. Steven Soderbergh did an excellent job embracing this genre of film. I give this film a green light.
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May include confusion, malaise, apathy, and/or delusion
Dan Franzen (dfranzen70)5 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
If you're lucky, Side Effects won't be permanent. For half of the movie, it is a persuasive indictment of the pharmaceutical industry and its crass behavior toward its patients; for the other half, it is a three- cornered mystery/thriller, with double crosses and framings galore. It is fair to say that the movie is adequate during each of its disparate parts, but overall it's a convoluted story that immerses itself in faux intrigue and wraps itself up so neatly that you can practically see the bow on it.

Emily (Rooney Mara) is a depressive; her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) has just returned from a stint in prison for insider trading, but she feels anxious and can't sleep. She visits psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), who prescribes a brand-new drug to help her out when the better-known brands (Zoloft, Paxil, Wellbutrin, etc.) don't seem to break Emily from her ennui. But the drug, as you might have guessed so expertly, does have its side effects.

It turns out - not a spoiler - that Emily has begun to sleepwalk. Well, more than sleepwalk, she does things in her sleep, like cook breakfast and set the table, all in the middle of the night and not remembering a thing the next day. Tragedy strikes while Emily sleeps. Is she the culprit, or is the drug to blame?

At first, the premise seems to be that involving patients in drugs that are just approved, as part of a study, is pretty unethical behavior by a doctor. Dr. Banks has bills to pay, though, what with his wife losing her high-powered job. So he's working longer hours and taking on more work, including participation in this study. When the tragedy that strikes comes back to haunt him as well as Emily, the movie takes a turn - it manages to turn Banks from being just an overextended shmoe into a manipulative drug dealer who uses his patients as experiments. Up until this point, we don't know whether Banks is actually innocent. From what we've seen, he seems so, but he could have inadvertently caused someone's death by prescribing medication to someone who reacted badly to the side effects. Naturally, his reputation (and marriage) in ruins, Banks works to clear his name. This is actually easier than it is in most movies of this ilk, because he's not in prison or anything. He just needs to piece together clues.

One of those clues is Emily's last doctor, Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is helpful but guarded. She relates that Emily left her care in Connecticut when Emily's husband got a job on Wall Street, which ultimately led Emily to see Dr. Banks.

The second half of the movie deals with Banks' efforts to find things out. Racing against time and struggling to believe various stories, he is now in full-on victim mode as presented to the viewer. It's not an unusual role; in fact, it's sort of a trope, the innocent trying to prove themselves. We're now sold on his innocence, and we as the audience just want to know what's happened.

I mentioned before that the movie ends rather neatly. Too neatly for my tastes, although it's not as if the explanations were implausible. But there's nothing wrong with some loose ends, some ambiguity, and this film - the 50th and final (maybe?) to be directed by Steven Soderbergh - leaves nothing ambiguous behind. We know, in full, the motives and fates of each character. Is this a good thing? Many won't be bothered by it, but for me I just prefer to have some questions left unanswered.

Law is adequate, although it feels like he's just stepping in for Tom Cruise when Cruise did all of those "framed man on the run" movies, like The Firm. Zeta-Jones is icy and opaque, two beneficial traits for her character. Mara, of course, steals the show, simply because of this: up until the last moments of the movie, we don't know whether anything about Emily is true. Instead of Law being the victim/accused, Mara's character slips quietly into that very role. In Emily, Mara brings the ambiguity the film needs - it's just too bad that ambiguity did not spread to the rest of the film. Shame; that would be a nice side effect indeed.
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A delicious dinner of a movie with the perfect dessert of betrayal and suspense
zken10 February 2013
What a delicious surprise of a movie for this early in the year. As has been the case before, a few films of greatness end up playing just after the first of the year. I saw this movie with expecting a clichéd crime drama. What I saw was one of the most inventive and riotous versions of suspense in years. Despite signs that this genre is dead and buried (no pun intended)here is a very modern film that updates the themes and tones of film noir without a pause or hitch of any kind. And as usual in great movies of this type, the setting is a character as strong as any of the actors. New York City has never looked this depressing and cold. But what really works here is a cast so perfect, that you can hardly remember their names. Each actor fits so perfectly in the tapestry of the plot, that the film has a naturalism so real it is surreal. There is a an incredible attention to detail that is what you would expect from a Broadway play or a painting by Dali. One suggestion-DO NOT go by yourself. Having a fellow traveler to discuss this is very required. And I say this as someone who goes to the movies alone often.
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Soderbergh's passable Hitchcock-like thriller, doesn't always add up
Turfseer7 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Steven Soderbergh's 'Side Effects', first appears as if it's designed as a critique of psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. Ultimately, it becomes more like a Hitchcock thriller. It's a film that keeps your interest but you'll have to suspend your disbelief quite a bit, to appreciate it.

Rooney Mara (looking quite more appealing than her stint as angry Goth in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'), plays Emily Taylor, a seemingly depressed wife of her husband Martin (Channing Tatum), who has just come home after doing four years in prison for insider trading.

When it appears that she tries to kill herself by slamming her car into a wall in a parking garage, she's assigned to a psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Banks (winningly played by Jude Law). Banks is a fairly typical psychiatrist who prescribes one psychotropic medication after another, hoping that Emily's mood will change. Still feeling forlorn, Banks consults with Emily's former psychiatrist, Victoria (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who recommends that Emily be placed on a new experimental drug, Ablixa. Banks takes the pharmaceutical company's money and convinces Emily to participate in the study.

The stakes are raised when seemingly despondent Emily stabs husband Martin to death but claims she can't remember anything and blames everything on the Ablixa. Suddenly, Banks is no longer the complacent psychiatrist but is now a scapegoat, as the press blames him for dispensing the medication which everyone assumes is the cause of Emily's violent outburst. His patients start leaving him in droves and he's investigated by the State Licensing Board. Furthermore, the pharmaceutical company drops him as one of the testers of the Ablixa study.

Soon, Banks figures out that there's something much more sinister underfoot. Like Hitchcock's 'Wrong Man', he now must clear his name. As Emily has taken a plea bargain in which she pleads guilty by reason of insanity, Banks is assigned to be her psychiatrist at the Ward's Island Criminal Psychiatric facility, and has full say as to whether she will be eventually released or not. And here is where I had the biggest problem with this film. If Banks' reputation is so in tatters (he's been smeared in the press) and the state licensing board is investigating him, why would the court even entertain the idea that he should continue to be involved with Emily? And without this caveat, the film's denouement, could never develop as it does.

So let's suspend our disbelief over this major plot point and see whether the rest of 'Side Effects' has any more credibility. As it turns out, Banks does indeed figure out that Emily was faking all along that she was depressed. He also discovers that Banks turned out to be the former lover of her former psychiatrist, Victoria, who convinces Emily to participate in an incredible scheme to drive the stock price down of pharmaceutical company who's been promoting Ablixa. By selling short, Emily and Victoria end up making a bundle but once Banks figures everything out, he forces Emily to wear a wire and rat out Victoria.

It's pretty much a fantastic scheme and again it involves more suspension of disbelief, since it's not guaranteed that the stock price will go down that much, where the two schemers, will actually make a big profit. Nonetheless, it could remotely happen. Banks being in cahoots with the Assistant District Atttorney to turn Emily but then falsifying her personality profile and illegally ordering her to take mind numbing psychotropic medications such as Thorazine, to shut up her up, seems beyond the pale. Would an ADA risk his job to participate in such an illegal, revenge scheme? I hardly think so.

It's also a bit ironic that a psychiatrist who exceeds his authority by authorizing the administration of psychotropic medications when they are not needed, appears justified, since the patient in question, has gotten away with murder. Whether you like this final scenario or not, one wonders why Emily didn't have an attorney who could have worked to expose Banks' illegal actions. It just seemed a little too easy in the way that Banks, along with his allies, so easily were able to keep Emily as a zombie (all doped up with her medications), without any other third parties becoming involved in her case, and perhaps discovering that the 'good guys' (i.e. Banks and company), were suddenly doing a bunch of bad things.

'Side Effects' is a passable 'Hollywood-type' thriller. It has the requisite good acting and interesting plot reversals, but ultimately not everything adds up.
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Good story but not hitting the spot.
Henrik Larsson12 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I starts of with following a depressed woman seeking help and getting prescriptions for a new drug. With the drugs comes wacky side effects, which becomes worse and worse, and end in worst case scenario. The story tries to point out the dangers with modern drugs and it's "side effects" which really are it's effects, but fails at the end, because the real issue is never brought to the surface. The corporations(the pharmaceutical industry is the second largest behind the energy industry) which are making billions of dollars every year on numbing down society, without legal responsibilities. And the pills which are right now being showed down our kids throats like they were candy, and no one seems to be noticing the link between the pharmaceutical drugs and the changed, radical and aggressive behavior? Why not shine more light on these issues instead of only focusing on fraud, murder and conspiracy between two people? And in the end it was just about money. And why not shine some light on the link between the shootings all over the world, were every kid involved pulling the trigger, was on treatment on some kind of drug, like antidepressants, stimulants, mood stabilizers etc.

Anyways, the movie turns into a conspiracy which is about making money...and it has it's twists. Actors are doing a good job and it's a little thrilling at it's moment at best. He actually punish her in the end by forcing her to take pharmaceutical drugs just to get revenge. That says a lot about how good drugs really are, you can use them to punish people! I guess this is the directors attempt to point at the dangers of the psychotropics, but he doesn't go as far as he should, missing the spot.

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So Implausible It Became Boring
ThatMovieWatcher23 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
TV shows and movies that feed certain stereotypes make me angry. This was one of them. It annoyed me how mentally ill people were portrayed in general. They depicted the practice of psychiatry as it was 100 years ago. Sessions 2-3 times per week. Shock therapy. Nurses in psychiatric hospitals running around with sedative needles administering drugs to "crazy" patients who refuse them (that's been illegal for maybe 50 years, not 100). Then the crazy ending, which is supposed to "blow your mind" with the ridiculous twists and hot lesbian tongue flicking. The only reason why it wasn't predictable was because it was so implausible you could never guess what would happen. That's not mind blowing. That's just cheating.
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Look in the Mirror
David Ferguson10 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Greetings again from the darkness. Director Steven Soderbergh says this is it. His final film. At age 50, he says he is walking away from making movies. Over the years, he has provided some good and some not so good, but never has he bored us. Movie lovers will always be grateful to him for his 1989 Sex, Lies and Videotape, which single-handedly brought the spotlight back to indie film. While I am quite skeptical of his retirement claim, it's noteworthy because the absence of one of today's true auteur's would be a loss for the art of cinema.

As for this "last" film, it begins as Hitchcock-esque, but concludes as more like Basic Instinct or Dressed to Kill. Put simply, the first half is mesmerizing while the second half devolves into a trashy pulp thriller.

The first half brought to mind the term pharmacological thriller. It seems as though Soderbergh and frequent collaborator Scott Z Burns (Contagion, The Informant!) are making a statement about our current societal trend of seeking answers, or at least treatment, through medication ... despite the risky side effects. We meet Emily and Martin Taylor (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum) as he is released from prison (insider trading) and she is falling back into her depressive ways. She is soon enough being treated by Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), a doctor who seems typical in his belief that finding the right pill cures most ills.

Since this is a suspense thriller filled with numerous twists and double, even triple-crossings, it's impossible to go too deep into what happens without spoilers ... something I won't do here. What can be said is the pharmacological thriller shifts into legal drama and finally a who-done-what kind of conclusion. The solving of the mystery comes courtesy of another oft-used Hitchcock theme: the wronged man seeking vindication.

Rooney Mara and Jude Law are both excellent here and to whatever extent the story works for you, they deserve the credit along with Soderbergh. Ms. Mara was outstanding in the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Mr. Law continues his transition from lame rom-com's to quality dramatic actor. The same shouldn't be said for Catherine Zeta-Jones, who plays Dr Victoria Seibert, Emily's first psychiatrist. Every scene she shares and every line she speaks just screams "look at me", not a desired quality for a supporting role.

Support work is provided by Polly Draper, Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep's daughter), Vinessa Shaw, Peter Friedman, Laila Robins, and Ann Dowd. Soderbergh does not disappoint from a technical aspect. His odd camera angles and unique shots are quite impressive and effective in sustaining the mood, even as the story spirals towards far-fetched. If it's truly his swan song, it seems appropriate that we see both the highs and lows of director Soderbergh. Here's hoping he returns very soon to the medium where his impact is needed.
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Begins as art, ends with a fart
themissingpatient8 June 2013
Steven Soderbergh is a chameleon of a director and one of the few who has the ability to move from critically acclaimed Hollywood blockbusters, like Ocean's Eleven, to dramatic art films like The Limey. He is also one of the hardest working filmmakers today, taking on such roles as producer, writer, director, cinematographer and editor. As a director, he has been able to pump out two feature length films in a single year and he has done this more than just once. However, over the last decade his films have become weaker as it seems as though not enough time has been invested into exploring the emotional depths of the stories he is bringing to life. Therefore they lack the ability to conjure genuine emotion from their audience. It almost seems as if he does not care about whether or not audiences are moved or entertained, but rather is just doing his job, moving from one project to the next.

At the beginning of the year it was announced that Soderbergh was retiring as a director and that SIDE EFFECTS would be his last theatrical film release. In an interview with New York Magazine, he stated: "The worst development in filmmaking—particularly in the last five years—is how badly directors are treated. It's become absolutely horrible the way the people with the money decide they can fart in the kitchen, to put it bluntly."

Rooney Mara plays Emily, a woman who seems to be suffering from some sort of mental disorder after her husband, Martin, played by Channing Tatum, returns home from prison. After a failed suicide attempt Emily is introduced to Dr. Jonathan Banks, played by Jude Law, a psychiatrist who tries to help her by prescribing her an anti-depressant. As Emily's symptoms worsen, her psychiatrist and her try to find an anti-depressant that works for her. After many failed attempts Dr. Banks takes the advice of Emily's previous doctor, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, and prescribes her a new experimental medication called Ablixa. The side effects attempt to destroy both of their lives.

Side Effects is shot and paced like a serious, well-crafted art film studying the truth behind depression which slowly builds into one hell of a tense thriller. What hold the film back is the ending. By the end this serious, well-crafted art film has succumb to a Hollywood twist gimmick popcorn flick better suited for the late 90's. I couldn't help thinking that someone had farted in the kitchen. I do not know if Soderbergh was just following the screenplay or if he was told to give it a happy ending that over-explains everything, leaving no sense of mystery and easily spotted plot-holes.

Of course, even with the out-of-place, poorly written surprise conclusion, Side Effects is still better than the majority of thrillers being produced today. And though it disappoints, the ride up until that point was mesmerizing and thought-provoking.
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This movie makes no actual sense
Chris Newfield15 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers

let's start with reviewer Dan Franzens's good summary of the set up: "Emily (Rooney Mara) is a depressive; her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) has just returned from a stint in prison for insider trading, but she feels anxious and can't sleep. She visits psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), who prescribes a brand-new drug to help her out when the better-known brands (Zoloft, Paxil, Wellbutrin, etc.) don't seem to break Emily from her ennui. But the drug, as you might have guessed so expertly, does have its side effects.

It turns out - not a spoiler - that Emily has begun to sleepwalk. Well, more than sleepwalk, she does things in her sleep, like cook breakfast and set the table, all in the middle of the night and not remembering a thing the next day. Tragedy strikes while Emily sleeps. Is she the culprit, or is the drug to blame?"

Well the tragedy-SPOILER- is that Emily kills her husband with a kitchen knife while "sleepwalking." Dr. Banks decides it's the side effect of the new corporate antidepressant that has more marketing money than clinical test results behind it. He helps get her a guilty-by- reason-of-insanity and a stint in a psychiatric hospital instead of life in prison for Murder 1. At the same time, his reputation is in tatters for having kept Emily on a not-very-tested drug in spite of some warning symptoms. So he has some incentive to figure out if something else is going on.

Many fairly suspenseful convolutions later, here's what we're expected to believe really happened. Emily was swept off her feet 5 years before by Martin, her dashing, handsome, affectionate, rich hedge fund guy, and she is about to lead the life of a fairy-princess wife in the enchanted money land of Greenwich, CT. But the feds come down on her handsome prince, and he is sent to a country club prison for unspecified white-collar crimes. We know that in real life that never happens, but more ridiculous things are yet to come. In her unhappiness, Emily sees a shrink, Dr. Victoria Siebert, played with adequate professional frostiness by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Emily draws the good doctor into her first lesbian affair, and naturally uses her jailbird husband's trader tricks to make both of them a pile of money. Either Emily has also fallen in love with Dr. Siebert, in which case she will not go back to her husband but instead live happily ever after with her new girlfriend and pile of ill-gotten Wall Street profits, OR she is toying with Dr. Siebert and using her as a trading proxy. Their is no point to this second possibility, and no coherence to the idea that Emily could make a fortune with what she learned over dinner from her jailed trader husband, since Wall Street makes its money on deal opportunities tied strictly to personal and firm-based relationships to which Emily, ensconced in the office-love nest with her psychiatrist girlfriend, has zero access. But possibility 1 is also not the case: Emily displays no affection for Dr. Siebert at any point ever, and stabs her in the back later on-figuratively in this case. But back to the affair itself: we are told that Emily cooked up the idea of Emily killing Martin when he gets back from prison because Emily is mad at him for getting sent to prison right after he had made her into a fairy-princess. Dr. Siebert is complicit in this. But there is no possible upside for Dr. Siebert and plenty of downside: she loves Emily and wants them to be together, so she would encourage Emily to leave Martin and not stir up every law enforcement agency in Manhattan by killing him. So apparently Emily is a homicidal sociopath who wants to kill Martin no matter what, and somehow persuades the calculating, careful Dr. Siebert to go along, which she would clearly never do. In addition, Emily is willing to be arrested, go to trial, and risk being in a psychiatric hospital for years because, why? A normal sociopath would pay someone to whack Martin and be done with it. Then in the end the noble Dr. Banks (Jude Law) persuades Dr. Siebert to keep Emily locked up, even though the former's only interest is being with Emily, and after Emily betrays her for Dr. Banks, Dr. Banks commits Emily to the hospital for all eternity. So it's the version of noir where everybody is basically evil, except that in good noir people retain coherent motives and the ability to pursue their own interests by destroying others in a semi-logical way. Nobody would ever act the way these characters do whether crazy or not. It's too bad.
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Good but not great
Robert Thorpe15 February 2013
Side Effects is the story of a Psychologist working with a depressed woman and managing her depression with drug after drug until they come across a new medication that has her do something within the film that puts both her life and the life of the Dr in the publics eye and possible Jail time. (not the best summary but I don't want to give anything away)

The film is well acted but the first 30 minutes are really long and I had a hard time getting into the film. However, once the twists start and the cover ups and the introduction of new ideas and possibilities it picked up nicely. I did figure it out relatively quickly after a couple of other thoughts were squashed. I think its worth seeing but not for 15 bucks a pop. If you can get it at the dollar theaters or matinée for 4 bucks, its worth it. AS I said, good acting, story is good but at times predictable and Soderbergh directs well. As thrillers go its one of the better ones in the last few years mainly because there haven't been many. Its all been large superhero films etc. So, its a good change of pace. AS i said, good but not great.
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Well-made, well-acted, but mostly predictable
gridoon201813 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
It may be because I kept reading and hearing about how many "mind-bending twists" this movie contains, but I was somewhat disappointed with it. The one central twist of the plot is quite predictable, especially when you consider that there are only two possible "truths" about what you have already seen happening, and the film desperately wants you to believe one of them....there IS at least one genuine surprise (the "truth serum" test), but it's a fairly minor one in the whole pattern of things. So, while "Side Effects" is well-directed by Steven Soderbergh and well-acted by a well-selected quartet of stars (plus some key supporting players), it's not really the mind-blower it's being hyped as. ** out of 4.
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Great Thriller
Claudio Carvalho13 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In New York, the insider trader Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) is released after four years in prison and his mother and his wife Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) welcome him. Unexpectedly Emily is depressed and tries to commit suicide, hitting her car against the wall in the garage. Emily goes to the hospital and the psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) treats her and she decides to be her client. Dr. Banks consults her former psychiatrist Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and she suggests that Dr. Banks uses the new drug Ablixa in her treatment. Emily tries to commit suicide again, but she returns to a normal life with Martin and occasionally has sleepwalking episodes. One day, Emily stabs her husband to death while sleepwalking and she is sent to trial. She is declared non-guilty but is forced to go to a psychiatric facility and Dr. Banks is responsible to periodically evaluate her mental condition.

Dr. Banks has his career destroyed with the negative publicity and also his marriage with the unemployed financial consultant Dierdre Banks (Vinessa Shaw) after receiving anonymous photos of Emily with him. He decides to investigate the case to clear his name and discovers that Emily faked her suicide attempts. His further investigation discloses an evil scheme in the stock market.

"Side Effects" is a great thriller and the best work of Steven Soderbergh in the last years. The storyline is very similar to the "Jagged Edge", but updated and using more characters and a more sophisticated plot. The smart conclusion seems weird since the double jeopardy prevents Emily from going to court again, but she is punished by Dr. Banks evaluation of her mental condition. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Terapia de Risco" ("Risky Therapy")
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Additional spoiler warning (in lieu of summary line)
Harry T. Yung18 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
For suspense movies, it is very difficult to write a review that is too meaningful. In some cases, even the mere mention that thing are not what they appear to be already constitutes a spoiler. Steven Soderbergh is well known for making movies with issues. Even the title "Side effect", similar to "Traffic", suggests that this movie delves into the medical profession to expose issues on matters pharmaceutical. It would therefore constitute a spoiler when I intimate that this "issue" is used here to camouflage a crime thriller. But then, you have been warned.

Using liberally techniques such as VO leading into the next scene and in and out focus in the same scene, Soderbergh has created this tale of spellbinding suspense, not quite Hitchcock-ish, but intriguing nevertheless. During the first half of the movie, you won't quite see where it is heading. The story starts innocently with attractive 28-year-old Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) welcoming home husband Martin (Channing Tatum) released after four years' prison term for insider trading. This event, though a happy one, has triggered some of the depression problem she previously had but seemed mostly cured by a Dr. Victoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The recurrence takes the form of her driving deliberately into a wall. While escaping serious injury, she is brought into contact by a psychiatrist checking her out at the emergency ward (the fact that there was no braking lines look suspicious), leading to this Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) taking up her case. The story meanders a little around sporadic but continues recurrence of Emily's depression and Bank's prescription of a antidepressant called "Ablixa" which he is paid handsomely by a pharmaceutical corporation to test.

As you begin to wonder how the movie will pursue this ethically dubious (but not illegal) issue, the bombshell drops. Martin comes home; Emily stabs him dead with a kitchen knife, goes to the bed room, climbs into bed and sleeps. All of a sudden, Dr Banks finds himself in a most unenviable position of possibly administering a drug that turns a patient into a sleep-walking psychopath. But as I said, things may not be what they appear. Of the plot I will say no more.

Whether you find the plot too convoluted or absurdly predictable, whether you admire the clever twists or deplore the dumb plot holes, you would find this movie entertaining, for the acting and storytelling. Law has shown masterful virtuosi is steering a character that takes some sharp turns and keeps him on course. Someone in the league of Zeta-Jones will of course not be wasted. But the spotlight is on Mara who carries this movie with impeccable authority. I mentioned that this movie itself is not quite Hitchcock-ian, but then Mara is a perfect Hitchcock-ian heroine and it becomes her. This young (just turned 28) woman will go far.
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Definitely delivers what Soderbergh fans have come to expect and I hope it's not really the end for him.
Hellmant20 February 2013
'SIDE EFFECTS': Four Stars (Out of Five)

Supposedly Steven Soderbergh's last theatrical film before he retires from directing (although he still has a TV movie, 'BEHIND THE CANDELABRA', coming). The very versatile director is closing with one of my favorite genres: the horror/thriller. It's a murder/mystery in which a psychiatrist's patient kills her husband, supposedly in her sleep, as a side effect of the drug he prescribed her. The film stars Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones. It was written by Scott Z. Burns, who also wrote the Soderbergh helmed films 'THE INFORMANT!' and 'CONTAGION' (another horror/thriller featuring Jude Law). The film starts out slow but once it hooks you it's a very involving and effective psychological thriller.

Mara stars as Emily Taylor, a young woman who's reunited with her husband, Martin (Tatum), as he's released from prison. Martin just served a four-year sentence for insider trading. Shortly there after Emily tries to commit suicide by driving her car into a parking lot wall. Emily then begins seeing a psychiatrist by the name of Jonathan Banks (Law). Banks is assigned to her by the state because she has no insurance and is unable to see her previous doctor, Dr. Victoria Siebert (Zeta-Jones). After reviewing her medical history, with her former psychiatrist, Dr. Banks prescribes her a new experimental drug called Ablixa. Emily experiences strange side effects from the drug, including sleepwalking, but she appears to be getting better. That is until she kills her husband with a kitchen knife one night. The tragedy is seen as an accident and Emily is plea-bargained into a mental institute but Dr. Banks's life begins to collapse as he takes all the blame for the incident. When he investigates the killing further though he finds out things aren't as they first seemed.

The movie could have been played out like a trashy/exploitative femme fatale horror flick but Soderbergh gives the material so much taste and style that it really works as a 'thinking man's thriller'. It still has a decent amount of explicit sexual material (including a bed scene and a lesbian make out scene) but it never seems cheap. Soderbergh delivers the material sort of like a more classy 'BASIC INSTINCT'. It might have been more fun if a Paul Verhoeven had directed it but it probably wouldn't have been as clever. The performances are all good (especially Mara, who's making a good name for herself after 'THE SOCIAL NETWORK', 'THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO' and now this). None of the characters are especially likable or relatable but it works better as a dark and disturbing thriller that way. The film definitely delivers what Soderbergh fans have come to expect and I hope it's not really the end for him.

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Catherine Z. Jones is the hottest in the land when playing the bad one!
jotaemesg10 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I have just seen this film tonight in Luxembourg, the famous Ruritanian duchy. It is the first film in quite a time that really thrills me and gets me high. Everything is very good, from the twisted but consistent plot to the great cast. In fact, there were many films shown today at the movie theater and when I saw Soderbergh, Law and Z. Jones were involved I thought to myself: it can't possibly be a fail, and I am glad to say now my assumption was utterly right. This is a real treat like those we used to have back in the forties. The evolution of the main character is very realistic and convincing, from an honest but somewhat naive English shrink in NY to a red blooded survivor struggling to get back his life in a ruthless legal jungle. In the end we even get the morals from the tale, which I will not disclose for the sake of a good watching. Much can also be said about a paranoic society feeding on pills to live up to overwhelming expectations of success and top-performance; a cowardly and hypocrite society which, ironically, is not ready to take responsibility when things take, say, an unwanted course. But, fortunately, these clever hints masterfully scattered throughout the film do not harm the most important thing, a sound mystery story with excellent players and a spectacular ending. Most highly recommended by all means.
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Not as advertised!
skeptic skeptical26 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The first half of Side Effects appears to offer something akin to a Lifetime movie channel critique of the overmedication of America. Everyone and his mother is popping prescription pills these days, and the situation does appear to have gotten very much out of control. Did you know that many of the mass killings on U.S. soil in recent years were perpetrated by people on "meds" (SSRIs, antidepressants and the like)? The contribution of the drugs to the violence can be written off since the person is already known to be "deranged"--anyone taking "meds" is sick, right? This provides an ironclad defense for doctors and big pharma alike, who when challenged on the problem of drug-induced violence will protest that if you took those people's meds away, then they might kill even more! The opening of Side Effects is about precisely these sorts of issues: very didactic and activist. Still a badly needed critique, but not the fodder for a great film. Soderbergh apparently realized this midstream, and so decided to turn it into to something else altogether.

The second half of Side Effects is like a labyrinthine logic puzzle. I'm still trying to figure out what it was all supposed to mean. I must say, however, that there ends up being an unpleasant and fairly heavyhanded homophobic moral to the story. The two lesbians are evil, and the male in a "normal" hetero relation (and who is also a father figure to his wife's son from a former (hetero!) relationship) is the wittiest of the three primary protagonists and naturally wins the game. Meanwhile, the female lesbo doctor has a future in the state penitentiary and the female lesbo patient is committed for life in a state mental institute, where she will be plied with drugs until the end of time. (I am hetero, by the way...) The message of the film ends up being ironically conservative, despite what appeared to be its promise to provide a liberal critique--albeit of the pharmaceutical industry!

The plot is so far-fetched and so far removed from the text on the cover of the DVD, that I have to wonder whether the director may have made it up as he went along. In the end, we learn that people can be morally sick without being dysfunctional and that meds are not needed to create coldblooded killers at all. I give the film a 7 primarily for defying any and all expectations, and also for provoking thought.
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Effective Indeed !!
sschand8816 September 2013
I had a different view for this movie with a usual romance and break up stuffs , but the director proved me wrong that it's not some predictable dramatic thriller. This one makes you to change your predictions at different intervals while watching it. And you'll definitely ends up with a wrong guess of what it might be.

It starts with a slow pace but makes you involve in it very easily. The movie was dark and with lots of medical terms which might be a little confusing for the viewers but as the title says it all you should've been expecting those. The casting was spot on. Rooney was a great choice for this Emily Taylor role. She just fits in so damn good. Channing had nothing more to do in the movie but he did a fine job like he usually does. Catherine surprised me with the role she accepted to play , i bet you'll be surprised too. The role that gave me a grip is Dr. Jonanthan Bank's. Jude Law took a huge role to play in this movie. The movie moves around these 4 characters and i don't want to say anything else about it.

It was a very good thriller and you don't want to miss this one. Side Effects was Effective Indeed !!!!!!!!!!
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